Bringing a new life into this world can be a very emotionally and physically taxing experience for many new mothers. Even though the media has largely portrayed it as a euphoric once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s perfectly normal if you feel anxious, sad, depressed, stressed and tired. In fact, 70% of new mothers will experience “baby blues” (a temporary melancholy that lasts only a few weeks), while 10-15% experience postpartum depression (PPD).
Symptoms of PPD can begin as early as a few weeks before delivery and may last for up to a year after delivery. These symptoms include difficulty thinking (also called pregnancy brain), trouble bonding with the baby, fatigue, anxiety, irregular sleep schedule or insomnia, crying spells and mood swings. If you feel you have these symptoms, the first step you should take is to consult a doctor or mental health professional so that they can diagnose you correctly. If you are diagnosed with postpartum depression your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Here are 5 interventions that you try at home to help your mental health as a new mother.
Exercise is said to have a positive effect on new mothers with PPD. Understandably a lot of moms are not able to take on physically demanding exercises, however, a simple stroll with your baby for 20 minutes a day can prove to be incredibly beneficial. Some mothers may prefer to try a more holistic approach which may include yoga, which isn’t too physically demanding but achieves the goal.
Communicating your feelings and the state of your health may be difficult for you because of how overwhelming it can be. Journaling your thoughts at the end of everyday can not only give you an outlet but it can help you put your reality into perspective.
Here are some guiding questions you could use:
- What made me feel happy today?
- What made me feel sad today?
- What made me feel anxious today?
- What was I confident doing today?
- What can I accomplish tomorrow?
Continue to take your prenatal vitamins
Taking prenatal vitamins during the pregnancy may have been very exhausting, however you need to continue taking care of yourself as you recover from the pregnancy. These vitamins will keep your immune system strong so that you don’t easily fall sick which can exacerbate PPD symptoms.
Create time for yourself
Ensure that you create time dedicated to caring for yourself. Whether it’s leaving the baby with someone else so that you can catch a movie, grab some coffee or attend a yoga class. Dedicating an hour or two to yourself can help give you a much needed break.
Intentionally spend time with other people
Isolation may worsen mental health strain. Community can help. Try to intentionally see other people who can help you take your mind off of the anxiety of motherhood.